Thursday, May 20, 2010

Recreation Centres and the City of Victoria OCP

The City of Victoria manages to surive on a single recreation centre because it has can count on people in Victoria being able to use the facilities in neighbouring municipalities.  As exmaples, the Burnside neighbourhood is close to Pearkes, Oaklands is abutting Cedar Hill Rec, Vic West is much close to the Esquimalt Rec Centre and the Jubilee area is very close to the Oak Bay Rec Centre.

Oak Bay manages to operate 2 rec centres for a population of only 17000. Saanich operates four rec centres for a population of 117,000. Esquimalt operates one for 17,000 people and the Department of National De fence effectively offers another one.  Victoria has a single recreation centre for a population of 82,000.

The city should set a goal of one full recreation centre per 30,000 people in the city within 15 years.  A full recreation centre would have the full gamut of fitness equipment, meeting rooms, at least one gym and either a pool or an arena.

To achieve ration of 30,000 people per recreation centre would mean constructing two more. Where does one put these two?  

A first location that strikes me as a good spot would be along the western side of Beacon Hill Park (and now I will duck as I am sure some the friends of Beacon Hill Park will want to fling goose poo at me for the suggestion).   This location would be a very good one to have with a pool, especially if one where to create the ability to have some pool and water park play area outside connected with the centre.

This  location would offer James Bay much better access to City recreation services.   It would also mean all of Fairfield west of St Charles would have better access as well.   It also serves the southern half of Downtown well.

This should be set as a proirity and should have a timeframe of less than eight years.

The third location?   There are various options.  

  • Gonzales - the density is not there and the distance to Oak Bay's centre is not that far
  • Vic West - This could be a good location given the rising population in the area.   The existing Vic West Y community Centre is not nearly close enough to the core of the population to be the best location.  The Vic West Park would be a good location.  One could work with the Davinci centre and develop something at Wilson and Bay.   
  • Cedar Hill Rec Centre - this is a Saanich Rec Centre, but it is on the border with Victoria.   What if the two municipalities cooperated and made this bigger and better rec centre?   What if Victoria were to contribute an two sheet ice arena to the site?

The existing Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre is not well located for a host of reasons and has some major shortcomings.

  • The facility has inadequate parking - if the city is going to have a single rec centre, it should provide much better parking for the public.
  • There is only one bus route that passes by it, the number 6.  The new number 10 comes close.   With the addition of the #10, some of the Jubilee area can now bus to Crystal pool.  Oddly enough, both the #6 and #10 allow for easy access from the Vic West to Crystal Pool.   There is no easy transit access from James Bay, Fairfield, Burnside, Rockland, Oaklands,  most of Fernwood or Gonzales to the facility.

The importance of public recreation centres is that local government is one of the few ways larger scale infrastructure can built.   The arena and pool aspects are expensive.   The City also has to consider the issue of access, if the City will not offer the recreation services close to the people, the public will not make use of them.
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